Four months after decree, not a single gun-carrying permit has been issued; Government owes Quito $359 million; Ecuadorians celebrate in New York

Aug 7, 2023 | 0 comments

Cuenca natives carry the Niño Viajero during the Ecuadorian independence parade in New York City on Friday.

Four months after President Guillermo Lasso signed an executive order allowing citizens to carry firearms for self-defense, not a single permit has been issued. In total, less than 100 applications “to carry” have been submitted nationwide, according to the Directorate of Arms Control of the Armed Forces.

“The permitting process requires a number of steps for application approval and we are still in the process of establishing protocols and setting up the operations to do this,” said Manuel Dávila, who heads the Directorate office. He added that lack of funding was also slowing the process.

According to Dávila, his office is working with the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of the Interior to develop the psychological and toxicological tests required. “In addition to creating the tests, we have not yet located the private specialists needed to conduct the testing.”

Cuencano immigrants in New York City hold up a special edition of Cuenca newspaper El Mercurio during last week’s parade in Queens.

In addition, plans have yet to formulated to conduct the firearms competency tests required for permitting. “These will be conducted at private training centers, where security guards are trained, but we need to identify the professionals who can train and test the applicants,” said Dávila. “Since this is overseen by the Armed Forces, we must also set criteria to determine civilian competency in the use of firearms.”

According the plan presented in the presidential decree, applicants must undergo 48 hours of training on a firing range.

Security expert Rafael Iglesias says he is not surprised at the slow start of the program. “The Armed Forces were not prepared when the president made his announcement and there were no funds to establish the program,” he says.

He adds that the plan was not “well thought-through” when it was announced. “It is a fact that owning and carrying firearms is not a priority or an interest for most Ecuadorians, although the interest has grown in coastal communities as a result of the violence there. Beyond that, people who want guns can easily locate and buy them on the informal market — they are widely available. Most of those who want to arm themselves are not interested in working through the government bureaucracy when there are other options.”

Government owes Quito $359 million
Quito Mayor Pabel Muñoz is demanding that the national government pay its debt to the city. The demand was formalized Friday when the mayor, city council and labor unions and civic groups signed a document detailing the impact the non-payment has on the city.

“Our institutions, infrastructure and our workers are suffering because the debt has not been paid,” Muñoz said. “How can we function as a city when the financial resources promised us by law are not delivered.”

The Ministry of Economy and Finance acknowledges the debt but says cash flow problems prevent it being paid immediately. “We are working with the city to discharge the arrears but this must be done incrementally due to a shortage of funds,” the Ministry said in a statement, adding that the government also owes money to other cities.

According to the Quito municipal finance office, the government owes $150 million for the Quito Metro subway project, which has yet to operate. Other outstanding funds include “flow-through” tax collections from the value added tax, income tax and other sources.

According to Muñoz, the government’s debt to the city has accumulated over “several years.”

Ecuadorians celebrate in New York City
Cuenca was well-represented at Friday’s Ecuador Independence parade in New York City, with some participants carrying the likeness of Cuenca’s Niño Viajero while others marched behind the banner of Deportivo Cuenca, the city’s professional football team.

According to organizers, almost 40,000 attended the parade on Northern Blvd. in Queens while thousands more visited the craft and food fairs in Flushing Meadows on Saturday and Sunday.

It is tradition with the estimated 150,000 Ecuadorians living in New York City to get a jump on the independence celebration, officially August 10. In Ecuador, the holiday will be observed Friday, August 11.

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